March 14 – you gave my dad a chance

233/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have yet to write a gratitude post for my dad but that one is coming in May on either his birthday or the anniversary of his passing and it will be one of the toughest ones I write but today, I have to honour the men who gave him his livelihood. Before and after his time/hospitalization/incarceration (whatever you want to call it) at Riverview, my dad did hold down a job to be able to support us. Yes, he would lose it at work due to his paranoia and delusions because of his schizophrenia and just walk off the job or not go to work for days or get into fights but the bosses/owners/managers must have known that he had a wife and two young kids and gave him countless chances. I recall my mom bestowing exorbitant Christmas gifts upon his bosses and I would complain as to why when we barely had enough to make it through but today I completely understand – those men gave my dad a job and focus and he brought in money to the house when he was working. I didn’t understand it then but I do get it now. They could have fired my dad for so many infractions but they kept him on – on until he got his pension and on so that he had benefits to cover us. I tried to search them up about a decade ago to phone them and tell them how much I, as an adult, wanted to thank them for doing what they did as I wouldn’t be who I am today if my dad wasn’t able to have held down a job to support us if not for them. Alas, I was not successful in my endeavour but this gratitude post goes out to you gentlemen – from the bottom of my heart, I truly thank you for doing the right thing and because of that, letting me and my sisters have lives that matter!

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March 11 – more than just a job

230/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  Growing up Indian, we were taught not to tell anyone about what went on in our house. We were told that family matters were to remain private and that no one needs to know about what we were going through. These gratitude posts have been cathartic for me and I don’t mind sharing my truths as I feel that I am only getting stronger and none of it is shameful. Because of this “keep the truth hidden” mentality, my family did not seek out help for my dad’s schizophrenia and I didn’t know about any resources, assistance, or aid that we would have been entitled to. I also did not benefit from any support groups that would have been available to us. In the last few years of my dad’s life and only because of his other health issues (diabetes, dementia, and heart bypasses) was he identified and put into the mental health system (did they forget about his decade or so at Riverview?) – this still shocks me.  A whole world of support was opened up to my mom and dad upon learning of him being in the community and this would have made a substantial difference for all of us growing up. However, I can’t live in the past but I want to thank the two ladies/case workers who were assigned to my dad in the last couple of years of his life – they were amazing. They helped my mom in numerous ways and checked up on her and my dad often and also told us about other resources that we were entitled to (for years had we known). In the last few months of my dad’s life, they gave my mom the additional support she needed outside of family to be able to cope with the inevitable loss that was about to take place given his deteriorating state. These ladies also explained a lot to myself and my sisters about the mental health programs – they were surprised that my mom had taken care of my dad that long in life without any type of provincial assistance. Although we only met them for a short time, their kindness and support was greatly appreciated by our entire family in my dad’s last years. Thank you for all your help.

February 8 – the masters

199/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I don’t know art at all. Yes, it’s a cliché but I just know what I like when I see it. I absolutely love abstract art as I find myself awash in the colours and the subsequent emotions and feelings that are awoken in me. I love going to museums and looking at paintings and have been fortunate enough to have been to MOMA, the Louvre, Sistine Chapel, Uffizi Gallery to name a few and have been greatly moved to have seen the work of the masters of the Renaissance up close but just as important has been those of minor artists. If I could afford a work, it would have to be by Monet but alas, that will never be; however, I do have one painting in my home by a local artist hanging over the fireplace and I have had it perhaps over two decades. It was the one and only piece I bought and I spent just over $900 for it – yes, crazy. I am not a fan of nature, boats, buildings etc in art but I bought this piece for two reasons – one which I am not very proud of. I did not know who Robert Bateman was but my sister had a few pieces by him and had also gifted my parents with his work and had told me that his work would appreciate in value. I thought they were just alright myself – totally not my style but his name was subconsciously engrained on my art radar. I decided to buy a piece of work from him because firstly, I fell in love with “Shadow of the Rainforest” a haunting piece by Bateman – it has the abstract element, moody colours and then something pops out at you and not so proudly but secondly because I thought I would make money off of it. Today, I can stare at it and just be mesmerized and for me, this is something I know is great art. I have fallen in love with it and actually don’t care if it has appreciated in value or not – it is something that I enjoy and that is why one should buy art. Thank you to the artists that have made my life a little bit more cultured but more importantly made me feel emotions through their works. My life is just that much better because of it.

 

January 14 – listen to your elders

174/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. When you’re in your 20s, you think you know it all and don’t have the need for anyone’s advice, especially unsolicited advice. This was the way I was but I was respectful about it – I’d heed the advice but as soon as it was given, it would as easily leave my cognition. However, I do remember one moment in time where I did not only pay attention but followed the person’s suggestion and here I am freshly turned 50 and I have him to thank for it. I was about 25, perhaps 26, and was sitting at a lunch table with a few new, younger fellow teachers and telling them that I had received a letter from Social Services (Welfare) and was told that I had about a $2000 pension amount with them as a result of my previous 18 month stint with them. I was telling this table group that I had the option to take it out or roll it over into the teacher’s pension but why would I do the latter when I could spend it and go to Vega$$$. As we are laughing, Ken W, the Humanities teacher sitting with his buddies playing crib at another table – who I hadn’t formally met yet since this was only my first or second year of teaching – told me that even though I didn’t know him, to take his advice and roll the money over as I would retire earlier. He went on to mention that yes, he was some 40ish year old teacher giving the newbie advice about money but when I reached his age, I would thank him. Exactly what I was thinking – I’m only starting to teach, retirement?! Yet, his message resonated on some level and since I really didn’t need the $2000 at the moment, I let the money roll over. Fast forward to today at 50 and I am so glad that I listened to Ken. Although, the government and teacher’s association are looking at pension and retirements, I am very fortunate in that the decision I made on Ken’s advice will allow me to retire with a full pension at 57 (only 7 years away) rather than 60/61 had I taken it out and spent it foolishly. Also, I still have lots more that I can possibly do at 57 so it’s a win/win for me. Yes, Ken, you are right. Here I am a little older than when you gave me the advice but you were so right – best decision I made for myself. Thank you so much for approaching me and just telling me what you thought was right. In your honour, I keep my finances all in check!

January 13 – service oriented

173/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. Some of my posts are thought out ahead of time, some are fluid and written in the moment, none of them are written beforehand though. Today’s post came to be based on my interaction of the day. Over the weekend, my Range Rover’s headlight gave out yet again. I texted my service advisor who happened to be a friend from the gym that I worked out at -Arthur S. He instantly accommodated my request and just put me at ease saying it would be taken care of. I have never had a service advisor. I would just take my car into the dealership or some private repair shop and let them do what they had to do and hope I wouldn’t be robbed blind. I’ve never dealt with the same person and established a relationship but with Arthur, this has not been the case. I have to say that Arthur is one of the nicest guys I have ever met. He has a smile on his face and a genuine concern for how you are doing and will have you laughing within minutes. And this is outside of the Range Rover dealership – nothing to do with the job. However, on the job, he also has that same welcoming persona which makes the process that much more smooth flowing. He has been my jedi master in terms of Star Wars and we share the same affection for Orphan Black as well as making excuses for not working out which I am king at!! 😉 We are often quick to complain about poor service but rarely commend exceptional service and hopefully, in addition to my thanks for Arthur being a friend, this post also shows how great customer service is in retaining a person – what a simple smile and going that extra mile does for a person. I try to do that in my life and I think this is why Arthur and I find it so easy to get along. Thank you buddy for giving me advice (don’t sweat the small stuff), taking care of my when I know nothing about my car and validating me for not working out when I can’t. In your honour, I hand over my keys to your trusting hands!

December 27 – service oriented

156/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. It’s the holidays and for someone in my career (teaching), you kind of take it for granted that you get two weeks off to relax, rejuvenate and destress or in my case, eat and drink and gain a Santa belly. You forget that a lot of people actually work during this time and if they are on holidays, they are taking time off during this period to be with friends and family – especially if they have younger children. I realized that this past weekend. On Friday, an internet repair technician came to our house to upgrade our modem as we were having problems with connection speeds. This was Friday Christmas Day!!! I felt guilty that he was working on this day – and internet is not an essential service (although some days it feels like it is!!). I remarked this to him and soon realized that he was a newbie and must have been given this as part of his schedule. I got his business card and asked for his supervisor’s name (told him why) and sent her an email about him and how he helped us out on Christmas Day. My wife’s car has been dead at the airport over Christmas and Boxing Day and we got a technician to come out and look at it today on a Sunday (typical day off for people like me) and during the holidays. Great man who figured out the problem and set us on our way. Yes, there could be so many bitter people who have to work on the holidays but I have not encountered them since venturing out for groceries, the odd latte or a night out drinking beer with friends. Everyone has been so kind and pleasant – maybe it ‘tis the season or maybe these gratitude posts just make me see the world in a different way these days. Thank you to all of you who work/have to work during these days but doing it in such a kind and happy way – your attitude definitely deserves to be rewarded but the least I can do is recognize it.

December 19 – clean up your act

148/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. What’s the number one thing that people in a marriage fight about? Sure, the stats might reveal it’s money and all things related; however, I would beg to differ. I think it might have something to do with responsibilities and helping around the home. I know that in my relationship, for the longest time, it had to do with cleaning. Growing up in a home where my mother did everything – worked outside the home, then made meals and cleaned on the weekends, I sadly and unconsciously internalized these notions – especially the gender-specific tasks. In my own marriage, I didn’t want to clean bathrooms and vacuum which caused a lot of strife – yes, I reluctantly and begrudgingly did the tasks but don’t label me spoiled. My opposition was related to the fact that I did all the outside tasks – cutting the grass, weeding, planting and any repairs (yes, for the latter I hired people – although handy rhymes with Randy, that’s where all comparisons end). Both my wife and I grew up in homes where it was unheard of for paying anyone to do things like childminding, cleaning, or cooking and simple repairs. This translated into our own “understanding” of being working adults with children – we tried to do it all ourselves which often led to many conversations about what it was to make the family unit work – and the inside tasks definitely required more time and were daily as opposed to the weekly outside tasks. Finally, through a lot of releasing of unwarranted guilt, it was decided that hiring someone to help with the cleaning every two weeks was necessary and it was justified in that we were a two income home and could afford this luxury for ourselves. It was the best decision we had ever made for the family unit. Yes, we have not found a consistent person as through their personal circumstances, they have moved on to other aspects but we have had a person come in and help with the task of cleaning the house regularly over the years. I am very fortunate that we are able to afford this extravagance and that we have had trustworthy, reliable people in our homes helping us with one of the more tedious tasks of maintaining a home. Thank you very much for taking away one of the biggest hurdles in domesticity and allowing some peace into our household. To all the cleaning personnel over the years, I will still put things away in your honour before you get here 🙂

December 5 – giving you the benefit

134/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me. I have had a lot of time over the past week to reflect on a number of things and the gratitude posts have flowed from within with very little effort. As a result of being housebound due to my accident and its subsequent injuries, I have spent every moment in the house since I was released from the hospital. Initially, I was upset and feeling sorry for myself in that I could not be in the classroom during the day or that I could not go out with friends and family in the evening. Reluctantly, I accepted the fact that due to the extent of my injuries, the time away from work spent resting allowed me to benefit from the necessary healing. As I further reflected on this, I realized that I am very fortunate that my career as a teacher affords me this luxury – the ability to take time away from work and still be paid. Up until this year, I did not realize that having benefits such as (banked) sick days with full pay was not the norm for most careers/jobs – yes, call me naïve – and this is one of the reasons a public servant/government job is coveted. This past week has allowed me to realize how very lucky I am. I am very thankful to my teacher predecessors who stood up for and fought for these and other benefits, I am thankful for governments for not stripping away all the benefits in times of restraint, I am thankful for current teachers who fight to keep our benefits, I am thankful for taxpayers who continue to support teachers and other public sector jobs. Thank you all for indirectly allowing me the time to heal, go back to the classroom revitalized and in top form and not have to worry about what that healing time was going to do to my financial bottom line. I am very grateful.